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Book Review - Unmasking Age by Bill Bytheway
The Policy Press, £24.99
What a pleasure to review a book that essentially reviews the author’s contribution to social gerontology since the 1970’s. However, I must also admit that I was somewhat intimidated about the prospect of ‘getting real’, and perhaps even removing my own mask as I confronted feelings about getting older myself. But Jay Gubrium states on the book’s cover, this is “fine reading” indeed. The author captures the reader as his story is told – as it is as much a personal story as it is an academic one.

Widely regarded as one of the country’s top social gerontologist, Bill Bytheway takes his reader across a wide spectrum of research projects to explore how age is revealed, reflected and articulated. Indeed, the challenge and/or the joy of chronological age is respectfully explored. The story of each piece of research unfolds in each chapter through his discussion of research methods and of his participants and their narratives on age. Very creatively he complements this with excerpts from, for example, fiction, the press, or work by his respected colleagues.

Specific topics in the book cover range topics including the ageing population, time and everyday life, representations of ageing, the ageing body, and family and social networks. Each chapter concludes with a series of short, but thoughtful questions. It is through these individual considerations that he takes the reader to ‘being old’ and to ‘growing old’. The book’s readership could quite possibility include just about everyone – experienced and less experienced gerontologists, students and older people!

Although I have never been introduced to the author, I feel like I have now! So, many thanks, Bill, for your 40 years of building and defining British social gerontology.
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